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WWE Weekly Recap: Bray Wyatt’s Time is Now

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As crazy as this may sound, Bray Wyatt has been a member of the main roster for three and a half years. 

This is not a misprint.

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Back in July of 2013, Wyatt, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan showed up on Raw after weeks of odd vignettes that portrayed “The Wyatt Family” as a group of crazy backwoods rednecks that you wouldn’t want to mess with.

Wyatt was positioned as the leader of the stable and immediately stood out due to his unique promo style. At times the words Wyatt would deliver to the audience felt like the second coming of Jake “The Snake” Roberts.

When Bray’s in-ring style was seen for the first time, it was just as uncommon as his promos. His spider walk spot is straight out of The Exorcist. He’s agile for a big man, but as physical as they come.

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After the new car smell of Wyatt’s character wore off, he and the rest of the Wyatt Family fell into the trap of another mid, upper-mid card act that never seemed to break through the proverbial glass ceiling.

Even though he was positioned against the face of the company, Wyatt’s feud with John Cena in 2014 didn’t do him any favors. In fact, he came out of their three Pay-Per-View long string of matches in worst shape than he was before it started.

The only highlights that come to mind when I think about that feud was the “plastic girlfriend” line Wyatt delivered to Cena about Nikki Bella during one of his backstage promos and their awesome Last Man Standing match at Payback.

Name a performer and Wyatt has likely feuded with him.

Chris Jericho: Yeup. Best match between the two was a cage match on Raw.

Daniel Bryan: Remember when Bryan became the fourth Wyatt Family member for like 20 minutes?

Ryback: Only thing I remember from this feud was Ryback eating a senton that Wyatt delivered from the apron to the floor at Payback 2015.

Dean Ambrose: Wyatt went over as a way to gain steam for his WrestleMania feud against Cena.

Kane: The first and last Ring of Fire match.

Undertaker: Part-timer > full-timer

Roman Reigns: These two had a great Hell in a Cell match, but once again, Wyatt came out of the feud on the losing end.

Randy Orton: Ongoing …

When the rumor began to circulate that Wyatt and Orton were going to feud for the WWE World title at Super WrestleMania Sunshine, I wondered why the title was necessary. Outside of the best friends turned bitter enemies storyline between Kevin Owens and Jericho, the Orton-Wyatt confrontation has been the second longest storyline in the company.

The story of Orton trying to end the Wyatt Family from the inside didn’t feel like it needed to have the world title attached to it, but when Wyatt pinned Cena and AJ Styles to win his first singles title at Elimination Chamber, all of those stop-start moments in his career finally washed away.

In the span of two days, he pinned Cena clean in the middle twice and Styles once. That’s how you put someone over.

Now, if I can be serious for a moment, it was a bit odd for the cult leader character of Wyatt to hold the title and point to the WrestleMania sign. His persona always seemed like it was above the gold, but I suppose time will tell if he brings a new edge to the championship.

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Changing of the gold

Both women’s championships changed hands this week as Naomi beat Alexa Bliss at Elimination Chamber and Bayley beat Charlotte in a wonderful main event on Raw.

Naomi has been with the company for eight years now, so it was great to see her finally have her moment with the title as the crowd chanted “you deserve it.” The same goes for Bayley. She’s a lifelong fan, so you know she’s fantasized about this moment since she was a kid.

I just don’t think the trigger should have been pulled on either of these title changes. Naomi carrying the SmackDown women’s title into her hometown of Orlando is a great idea, but what about her winning the title in her hometown? Bliss was really hitting her stride as a heel champion.

As great as the Bayley-Charlotte match was, could you imagine what that moment would have been like at WrestleMania? Bayley winning the title and ending Charlotte’s PPV streak on the company’s biggest stage would have been an incredible WrestleMania moment.

Unless the plan is to keep Charlotte’s PPV streak alive after WrestleMania, Monday’s result is just puzzling to me.

Match of the week

As great as the Bayley vs. Charlotte match was, the triple threat between Wyatt, Cena and Styles for the WWE world title on SmackDown was just a tad bit better. Even though I knew Wyatt was going to walk out with the title, I found myself buying quite a few of the near falls.

Time to “Go Home”

I didn’t want to make this column 3,000 words, so I’ll keep my thoughts about the Festival of Friendship to a minimum.

– Everything about it was awesome. From Owens’ expression throughout the segment, to Jericho’s gifts (the Creation of Kevin needs to go up on WWE.com stat), to the moment when Jericho sounded like he broke character (while staying in the parameters of the actual storyline) to thank Owens and tell him that he loves him. All of this, including the List of K.O. reveal, made the eventual turn so damn effective.

– Also, a heel turning on a heel? Welcome to 2017.

– Is a stable of NXT stars slowly starting to take shape?

– Did Dana Brooke come out of the New Day’s time machine backstage?

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– Baron Corbin dragging Ambrose out from the back cracked me up for some reason. It was like watching a dad drag his child out of the mall after he throws a fit.

– Samoa Joe’s interview with Michael Cole was another home run. Joe-Zayn should easily be the MOTN at Fast Lane.

– Dude, the New Day are floundering so aimlessly right now that I’m not sure ice cream can save them.

– Luke Harper is going to win the number one contendership match for Randy Orton’s WrestleMania spot, right?

– When Anderson and Gallows interrupted Reigns during the opening segment, I thought Anderson was wearing a Bullet Club shirt.

– Even though Reigns didn’t beat Anderson and Gallows, the idea of him beating down the tag champs by himself is just ridiculous.

– If I ever get the chance to interview Cesaro, I’m going to ask him what went through his mind when this happened:

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– Is it time for Enzo to just become Cass’ manager? He’s somehow gotten worse in the ring since coming up to the main roster.

– If you haven’t seen Chiefs TE Travis Kelce take on Seth Rollins in UpUpDownDown’s Madden challenge, just know that Kelce might have a future as a WWE superstar when he decides to call it a career on the field.

– I was surprised Emma didn’t come out during the main event to try and help Charlotte.

– I’m pretty sure Jason Jordan and Chad Gable are binge watching the Steiners on the WWE Network. Jordan was running around the ring in circles barking like Rick this week.

– It’s nice to see the Ascension gain some steam. Also, Fandango throwing fashion tickets on Heath Slater during the tag team turmoil match made me LOL.

– The Andre the Giant documentary that’s going to be produced by HBO, the Bill Simmons Media Group and WWE is sure to be excellent. There are so many stories about Andre that this could easily be five hours. Good luck to whoever has to edit it.

The Twitter: @ScottDargis

Glenn ‘Kane’ Jacobs leads Republican Primary for mayor of Knox County by 17 votes

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MY GAWD IS THAT THE FUTURE MAYOR OF KNOX COUNTY, TENNESSEE?

After 100 percent of the precincts reported their data, Glenn Jacobs, known to wrestling fans as “The Big Red Machine” Kane, is leading the Republican nomination for mayor of Knox County, Tennessee by just 17 votes.

The race isn’t over just yet though. According to the ABC affiliate in Knoxville, there are still provisional ballots that need to be factored in, so an official winner won’t be announced until next week.

Jacobs has worked under the umbrella of World Wrestling Entertainment since 1995. After announcing his candidacy last April, he’s been seen very sporadically on television. The last time he worked a match on TV was the main event of the March 26th edition of Raw against John Cena.

Adam Cole: I want to have the biggest personality in the room and not just on the microphone

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Before Adam Cole heads to the Smoothie King Center for NXT TakeOver: New Orleans, this Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on WWE Network, I chatted with him about how much he’s learned during his time in NXT, what makes the NXT crowds special and what it was like to meet Shawn Michaels. 

About a year ago you said that if you made the jump to WWE that you would want to start off in NXT as opposed to going right to the main roster, flash forward to now and you’re an established star in NXT. Is this part of your journey everything you thought it would be?

“Yeah for sure. When I come into a situation, especially like this one in NXT, my goal is to get to perform in front of these fans, to get to wrestle with these guys, who are in my opinion, some of the best wrestlers in the entire world. I felt like I could fit really well in this environment and I think I have. To get the chance to do what I’ve done here so far has been a total blast and so much fun.

But at the same time it’s exceeded my expectations in many ways. I’ve gotten to do things in NXT, and even WWE, that I didn’t imagine I would get the chance to do. Very happy with the journey so far.”

In what ways have you grown as a performer since coming to WWE?

“There’s just such a better understanding of who I am actually as a performer. You fall kind of into … I don’t want to say a routine because you’re always trying to improve and get better, but when you wrestle for certain organizations time-and-time again, you kind of fall into this routine of performing a certain way and having matches a certain way. Also, after a while you’ve wrestled everyone over-and-over again.

Getting to come here and getting to wrestle a bunch of new talent, some guys I’ve met before and some guys that I’ve never met before. It puts you in a situation where you learn to adapt and change, whether it be character wise, things that you do in the ring. It just gives you new challenges.

I’m teaming a lot more with Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly, so that throws me into a different situation as far as learning to wrestle as part of a team as opposed to working solo most of the time.

Also the fans, I’ve noticed in each and every promotion, even though there are a lot of similarities in many different ways, NXT is a totally different animal.

Overall, adapting has been the biggest growing point for me.”

Interesting, in what ways are the NXT crowds different from the other promotions you’ve worked for.

“The NXT fans to me are in love and so infatuated with the characters. So to me when you see a guy like Velveteen Dream or No Way Jose and the way that they’re so invested in them as performers, not even necessarily with what they’re doing between the ropes, but in their entrances.

I feel the connection with the audience is just so much greater than anything I’ve felt before. It’s pretty incredible, especially when you’re at TakeOver events.”

When I watch the backstage segments with you, Kyle, and Bobby, they come off like old school nWo style promos. Obviously the music playing in the background, which sounds like a new age nWo theme, and the camera angles help, but it’s the natural chemistry you guys have on camera because it seems like you’re just having fun and being yourselves on camera. I would imagine it has to be awesome to just bounce off of each other while filming those.

“Oh man yeah, it’s so much fun. I think that’s exactly why it comes off that way. Me, Bobby, and Kyle are as close as it gets. That’s not just a performance. I’ve known Kyle O’Reilly since 2009 and I was in his wedding. I’ve known Bobby Fish for years and years, we used to travel together all of the time. We talk every single day.

So when we’re there and we’re talking in front of the camera, that’s just us having a good time and I think that’s a big reason why the group works so well. It’s very natural because it’s very real. So I think in turn how we project ourselves comes off as fun because we are genuinely having a great time together.”

Speaking of coming off natural, you come off so natural on the microphone. I talked with Ronda [Rousey] this week about where she’s at in terms of speed while talking in front of the live audience and then I asked Roman [Reigns] about it and he talked about how he was able to process the idea of taking his time to make sure he stopped rushing through his material.

Is the speaking part of the business something that you were able to gravitate towards and get comfortable with quickly?

“I think so. There is a constant growth process. I think that’s why I love this job so much. There’s no such thing as completely perfecting every area of it, you’re always trying to get better at it.

For me, I picked up the promo aspect of pro wrestling much faster than the actual wrestling part of it. I was always fairly athletic and I could do things even from the beginning of my career, when I was 18 and 19 years old. I was always the guy who could always string words together and found what I was saying to be actually believable however I was trying to come across, whether that be somewhat likeable or somewhat of a jerk.

I don’t know why that is, but I remember as a kid just being so fascinated by guys who were good talkers. Even in movies. I used to love the way James Bond villains would act and how cool they came across and how awful they seemed, but what they were saying was so believable.

I’ve always been fascinated by guys, especially bad guys, who were able to talk a certain way, tell stories with their words and just paint this beautiful picture for that you just completely rode along with. I’ve focused a fair amount of time on making sure that promos were something I really focused on.”

Your in-ring style is very interesting to me. You’re a smaller guy, but you work a style that is similar to a lot of bigger guys and it’s because of this slower pace that the spots actually mean something, especially when you build up to the climax of a match. Is that a pace that you’ve always had, or was there a certain point where you were like, OK I need to slow down now and figure out what works for me?

“That was something I developed over time. When I first started, I was definitely a guy that was doing every move under the sun and I was going a million miles an hour and just trying to wow the fans as much as I could. I thought that was the way to get them invested in me. Don’t get me wrong, that style is very impressive, but I on purpose work a certain style. It’s very important for me to do that.

It’s obvious that I’m not the biggest guy in the world, but I want to have the biggest personality in the room and part of that personality isn’t just on the microphone. That’s the way I have to project myself in the ring as well.

All of my favorites in this business really took their time. They made everything they did mean something. Every movement they made had a purpose and that’s the type of performer I’m most comfortable being and that’s the type of performer I want to be too.”

There are so many performers doing unbelievable things we’ve never seen before on what feels like a weekly basis now, but after 20, 30 minutes go by and the match ends, I’ve seen so many big spots that it just feels like a blur, where as your matches build up to a few big spots that are easy to remember.

For instance, I watched your match with AJ [Styles] in Ring of Honor recently and you guys worked such a slower pace, but it built up to a huge finishing spot that is going to stick with the viewer. When I come across a match like that one it just feels so different in comparison to a lot of the matches we’re seeing nowadays.

“Sure, sure. You bring up AJ and he’s the king of that. AJ is a guy that can do anything under the sun. He’s one of the most athletically gifted guys there is, but AJ is able to place his stuff and put it in situations where he has the fans completely in the palm of his hand.

He knows he can do anything, but he knows that the biggest reaction he’s going to get from the audience is working a certain style and taking them on this ride by building a story within the match.

Doing a million things is very impressive, but if you forget 90 percent of it, it’s kind of a shame.”

How many times has someone come up to you at the Performance Center and said you look like Shawn Michaels?

“(Laughs) More times than I can count. Whether that be at the Performance Center, whether that be fans. I think I get at least five or six tweets a week about how I look like Shawn Michaels. To me it’s just a giant compliment.”

Has he said that to you?

“Yeah! When we first met he said, ‘A lot of people tell me that you and I look alike and now that I met ya I see what they mean.”

Who is somebody in NXT that you haven’t had the opportunity to work with yet that you’re looking forward to getting in the ring with?

“I’ll tell you what, I would love the chance to have any sort of a program with Velveteen Dream. I think that guy has so much potential. He’s so good now. His understanding of the industry for his age is unbelievable. His natural talent is the same. I watch him, I’m captivated by what he does, so to get the chance to be in there with him in some capacity would be great.”

Twitter: @ScottDargis